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Published October 6, 2013

Is the Harnett County Dushee Shaw Half-way House Haunted? You Decide!

The old Dushee Shaw Half-Way House is becoming increasingly well known as a place of history and of ghost stories. This building is near what is now Coats, in Harnett County, NC; the area was once known as Averasborough, a river town on the Cape Fear River.

It later became a stagecoach halfway house or rest-stop for the first stagecoach road leading from Virginia to Georgia. It also served as one of eight rest stops on the route from Raleigh to Fayetteville. The stagecoach drivers had to change their horses about every 10 miles. The building provided a bathroom type facility and a bar for passengers.

It is believed that this particular building was a rest stop used by Marquis de Lafayette, a French General who fought for George Washington during the Revolutionary War. The Marquis made a trip from Raleigh to Fayetteville in 1825 by stagecoach.

RELATED: Buried Treasure in Cary: The Ghostly Legend of High House

The old run down building was chosen and prepared for filming brief videos, (“River Town Episodes 1-4”), re-enacting vignettes of life during the early 1800s. Investigation showed this building was built in 1798 as a home, according to Bryan Avery, a historian and author of “Olde Aversaborough” and an actor in Revolutionary and Civil War re-enactments..

In order to use the building for the videos much preparatory work had to be done. One day after Bryan Avery had been working hard in the heat of the day with other volunteers, he stepped outside. He went to the back of the house where it was shady and sat down to relax and cool off.

Suddenly Bryan heard what “sounded like a baseball hitting a window” and then heard the sound of shattered glass falling from the window above his head.

He looked around and saw no glass and the “window” was covered with tin. He even had one of the other workers come out and verify that there was no broken glass anywhere.

Bryan states clearly, “I don’t believe in ghosts. I have slept and laid on ground where thousands of people have died in my 49 years and never saw nor heard a thing.”

Some of the other volunteers while working to repair the house also heard the sound of glass breaking from above while inside the house at a different time. So one of the volunteers called in a “spook hunter.”

Bryan Avery stated, “The ghost hunter said that there were spirits watching them work and they were angry because the noise from the generator was driving them crazy. She said they did not understand what the generator was.”

Bryan in his straightforward manner flavored with a deep Southern drawl, told the ghost hunter, “Tell them if they will get down here and grab a hammer and help out they won’t pay any attention to the noise!”

Sometime during the filming, it came to their attention that the old house, served as a hospital during the Battle of Averasboro during the Civil War. It is said by historians that two soldiers jumped from the second story windows on the back of the Shaw House to their deaths, rather than have their legs amputated. Family members of people who grew up there, recall stories of sightings of two soldiers seen in the windows of the second floor of the building .

Dushee Shaw Half-Way House, located in Harnett County N.C. circa 1890.
Dushee Shaw Half-Way House, located in Harnett County N.C. circa 1890.

The house had been hidden by weeds and trees for many years. The house and land is being bought by a historical group with plans for a camp for kids. For further information on the Shaw House and its restoration see the Save the Shaw Halfway House on Facebook or visit the Shaw “Halfway” House Project on YouTube.

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  • Elaine Estes


  • I love stories and legends, whether they be educational, humourous, silly or touching. I grew up on the fairy tales and later grew to love legends from different times and different cultures. Find other stories and legends from Elaine, by visiting her own blog “joyful2bee“. All my articles.

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